Prithu Gupta: the 64th and last piece in India’s first complete “Chessboard”

This story of the 64th Grand master of Indian Chess is quite unique, intriguing and inspiring in its own way. Prithu Gupta, the Delhi teenager became the country’s 64th GM at the age of 15 years, 4 months and 10 days on the 18th of July 2019. Unlike others, Prithu’s journey to the GM title has been somehow unorthodox. The boy from Modern School, Vasant Vihar has given great importance to his academics and ensured that he maintain a CGPA close to 10. At the same time whenever he has got to play in a chess tournament he has made the most of his opportunities and achieved his GM title. 32 years after Vishwanath Anand became India’s first GM, Prithu has completed the first chess board by becoming the country’s 64th Grandmaster.

The first chess board of Indian chess that began with Vishwanath Anand on the first square back in 1987 has been completed on 18th of July 2019. Prithu Gupta imprinted his name on the final square of the chess board as the 64th GM of the country. It has been a phenomenal growth for Indian chess in recent years. We produced eight GMs in 2018 and Prithu is already the sixth GM of the country in 2019, with D Gukesh- India also found its youngest GM this year at the age of 12 years, 7 months and 17 Days.

Born on 8th March 2004, Prithu achieved his first GM norm at the Gibraltar Masters 2018, the second one at the Biel Masters 2018 and the final one at the Porticcio Open 2019. At the fifth round of the Portugese League 2019, Prithu beat IM Lev Yankelevich and crossed the Elo threshold of 2500.

You would be wondering what makes Prithu journey unorthodox and special, the main reason is age from which he started playing Chess.The important point to note is that Prithu was not one of those kids who began playing chess at the age of four or five. He started his chess journey when he was nine years old. That’s quite late by the current standards. In recent times we see a trend of youngsters giving up their education and academics in order to pursue their chess career. Prithu has been very particular about balancing his education and chess and has excelled at both of them. Being a student of Modern School, Vasant Vihar, Delhi, he has managed to maintain a CGPA of close to 10 in academics and at the same time achieve the GM title. What is quite unbelievable about Prithu’s achievement is how he is able to perform at the highest level in spite of not playing many tournaments. In 2018, which was the most crucial year for Prithu’s chess, the youngster played in just six tournaments throughout the year – Gibraltar Masters, Llucmajor Open, Portugal Team Championships, Biel Masters, Isle of Man and Montebelluna Cup. In these six tournaments he scored his two GM norms and moved from 2373 to 2462 in terms of rating.

While Prithu’s achievement on the chess board is without a doubt amazing, his exploits off the board are also something worth mentioning. In February 2018 when ChessBase India was raising funds for the blind chess players of the country, Prithu Gupta did his bit by contributing his prize money towards the donation drive. Later on he even spent time with one of the members of the blind national team to fine-tune his preparation before the all important world team championships for the blind. All of this just goes to show that the boy is not just a genius on the chess board, but is also a very sensitive and an empathetic individual off it.

From being a 1187 rated played in October 2013, to becoming a GM in July 2019, Prithu has been able to gain 1300 Elo points in a little less than six years. The boy with his hard work, determination and never say die spirit has shown that nothing is impossible. He never let his academics suffer, he played in very few tournaments, he fought ill health at many events, but his talent and the love for the game was so huge that no problem was insurmountable for the youngster. Well done Prithu. The entire nation is proud of your achievement. Now onwards to becoming a world class player.

School: Modern School

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Anucool, still believes that Ponting used a spring bat in 03' WC Final. He is one of those nerds who think that 'sports can change the world'. 'Ex Mohalla' Footballer and a full time sports viewer Trekking makes him happy.